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Crisis funding, Libertarians, Fossil Fuel Banking, Critical Minerals, EU elections and more - the ENCO newsletter

Every month, our newsletter features the latest publications and other activities of the ENCO network and of the civil society and media organisations that participate in its activities.

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New ENCO report: Business over people

In the face of the European elections, it is necessary to evaluate what has been done to tackle the current multicrisis, aggravated by the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, and worsened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The report “Business over people. A critical analysis of public financing for COVID-19 and cost of living crisis responses in France, Spain and Belgium” (available in English, Spanish, Catalan and French) provides a detailed overview of public crisis financing (amounting to 456 billion euro) and shows that the French, Spanish and Belgium governments neither prioritized socially necessary services during the time studied, or put people’s and planetary well-being at the center of their public crisis financing.

Socially necessary sectors such as health care, education and public transport received less than 17% of public financing. Few measures were targeted at supporting people in more vulnerable conditions (women doing unpaid care work, young people and the elderly, migrants, workers in unregulated or informal jobs...). In addition, during the period of suspension of the European fiscal rules, the governments did not commit to public spending to strengthen public sectors to guarantee collective rights.

On the other hand, between a third and half of the funding was allocated to private companies. If indirect grants are also accounted for, such as job protection measures or household energy subsidies, they received 69% (France), 68% (Spain) and 58% (Belgium) of public financing. As a result, the main beneficiary of the crisis measures was the private sector —through subsidies, favorable loans, fiscal leverages and public guarantees—, but also benefiting from indirect support —receiving billions of public money to maintain its workforce. Furthermore, these funds barely required to comply with climate or gender criteria.

Read the report: Business Over People.


Latest research from around the network

EU elections special. Corporate Europe Observatory has put out a range of new materials, including animates series and podcasts, about what’s at stake with the elections and the corporate capture of the EU. You can find it all here.

The Atlas Network is targeting Europe. The influence of the Atlas Network – a web of libertarian and ultraconservative think tanks funded by billionaires such as the Kochs – has been well documented in the US, the UK, and more recently Argentina following the election of Javier Milei. Its growing presence in the EU has been less examined. But the next EU elections could deliver a political landscape even more favourable to their ideas. An article by Observatoire des multinationales takes a look at some of the Atlas Network’s partners in Brussels and their activities. It is part of a larger investigation into the influence of the network in France (in French only).

Unsupervised - the carbon pollution of the world’s largest banks. Ahead of the G7 finance ministers’ meeting in Stresa (Italy), a new report by ReCommon (available in Italian and English) exposes carbon pollution financed by the world’s largest banks. The report finds that the biggest banks in G7 countries are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the emissions of Germany, Italy, the UK and France combined. The greenhouse gas emissions associated with the global systemically important banks in the G7 amount to 2.7 billion tonnes, based on year-end disclosures from 2022. The authors of the report stress that the calculations of the emissions financed by the world’s biggest banks are likely a significant underestimate, which is due to a lack of transparency and poor disclosure practices. 

Critical metals: when Europe undermines its transition. The European Union recently ratified its regulation on critical raw materials. With this law, Europe is paving the way for a mining revival on its soil. The need to reduce dependence on foreign supplies and the energy transition are the main reasons given for this law, which is one of the fastest to be passed in European history. Read Gresea’s latest take on the subject (in French)

Fighting EU-funded projects in Italy. Mira, a joint project by ReCommon and CEE Bankwatch, slams the big corruption scandal taking place in Liguria involving regional governor and businessman linked to the construction of the Genoa Breakwater, the largest infrastructure in the Italian Recovery plan. Mira call for immediate suspension of the project and a thorough evaluation of it. Read more here. ReCommon also calledon the government to revoke Giovanni Toti (Liguria regional governor) from the role of extraordinary commissioner for the construction of the Vado/Savona regasification terminal. The terminal is a project by Italian gas TSO Snam and it is facing a massive popular resistance from residents, grassroots movements and civil society organizations like ReCommon who denounce the fast track procedure (under RePower EU legislation) and call for a total halt to the project.

Call: Digital Rights by Design. The goal of the 4D Digital Rights by Design Call, organised by puntCAT Foundation and xnet, is to provide support for the developments or initiatives focused on action in terms of digital commons and rights, such as technological developments, response protocols to change institutional/general habits, strategic litigation, legislative amendments and incidence, or other types of solutions. Find out more here.


From the ENCO Archives: Cities versus multinationals

From water privatisation to Airbnb and Uber, from fighting against cars and diesel pollution to promoting a “relocalised”economy that does not leak cash for the benefit of remote shareholders, a battle is brewing in Europe, one that pits cities and citizens against multinationals and financial powers.

This 2020 publication by Brussels-based Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), Barcelona-based Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Paris-based Observatoire des multinationales, and the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute, facilitated by the ENCO network and published in partnership with Ritimo, offers a comprehensive look at this critical confrontation between cities – progressive municipalities and social movements – and corporate power, from Barcelona to Berlin and from Dubrovnik to Naples. Available in English, French and Spanish, it includes articles written by activists, journalists, officials and academics from various European countries.

This confrontation between cities and multinationals is a reflection of the increased pressures on local authorities and urban spaces since the 2008 financial crisis, including austerity and budget cuts, the financialisation of housing, overtourism that negatively impacting locals, and the targeting of cities by Big Tech and platform companies. On the other hand, cities and their inhabitants are developing a wealth of powerful innovative policies and initiatives to respond to global challenges, develop the local economy, reduce their climate and environmental footprint, and ensure a good quality of life for all.

“Cities versus multinationals” demonstrates that, across Europe, cities and their inhabitants are taking up the gauntlet of progressive social change and climate justice. But it also illustrates the countless obstacles they face when confronting corporate giants, including from the national and EU level.

You can read all the articles and download the complete publication here